Leaving Cert English: Reading Comprehension, Study Less!

Leaving Cert English Reading Comprehension. Study less, Practice more.

It’s not often that it is recommended to study less, but out of all the questions on your English Leaving Cert paper, this question requires practice and polish rather than the hours of study that goes into Paper 2.


In other words, write to impress and show off your mastery of the language!


This question is worth 50 marks. The purpose of this question is to test your overall understanding of a text and the quality of your English, so it’s time to show off. Students sometimes feel that this section is hard to study for as there is no specific text, but in reality that’s the beauty of it.


You will have three texts to choose from. I always tell students to choose their question B first and then choose their question A from the remaining two texts. You cannot answer A and B on the same text.


There are generally three types of questions asked:

  1. Questions that require you to show your comprehension of events/aspects of the passage - In other words simply provide information based on what you have read.
  2. Questions that require you to give your opinion about events/issues discussed in the passage.
  3. Questions that require you to comment on a writers style used in the passage. 


  • Be clear on what type of question is being asked. Information, writer’s style, opinion, comprehension. Ensure you answer exactly what you are asked!
  • Ensure to support your answer with well-chosen quotes woven into your response. Remember that each answer you write in Question A must include evidence from the text itself. We have spoken about weaving your quotations into your answer, and this is extremely important in this part of the exam. Remember that you are essentially showing off your quality of English and your mastery of the language. Therefore, showing an ability to seamlessly include a quote during your answer is essential.
  • Have a good bank of vocabulary to assist you in showing off your mastery of English Firstly/furthermore/finally/in light of this/although/nonetheless/as a result/therefore/similarly/for example. Your answer needs to be coherent and your points need to have a flow of sequence. Show that you know how to organize and order your thoughts.
  • Avoid a chatty tone. This is your time to write to impress! Reveal your mastery of English.
  • All the structure and approaches that you have applied across the board in English still apply here. This section, like every other section, is marked with the same guidelines. These are Clarity of Purpose, Coherence of Delivery, Efficiency of Language, and Mechanics of Language. I am always telling my students that the only way to study for this section is to practice answering the exam questions. It really is the only way to improve your mark.

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